Nov 222013

My husband and I became volunteer managers of an HO Scale model train room at our area’s Senior Recreation Center last year.  How we have created the waterfalls and other scenes are shown hereTrain Room RR MuseumTrain Room scenic painter Train Room scenic painting

We found donated, non-working trains stored away in old boxes.  They deserved to be seen and enjoyed.  So, creating a railroad museum allowed these antiques to be displayed.

I’ve never considered myself an artist, but the walls needed some painted scenery for the trains to travel past.

A (circular track) helix that’s designed to bring the trains to the upper or lower level of tracks doesn’t allow me to reach portions of the wall.

Train Room scenery Great Salt LakeI had to devise my own “painting wand” out of a paint roller extending rod.  Masking tape holds an artist brush to the rod and allows me to add mountains, trees and clouds on the walls.

HO model trains pass by the Kennecott mine on the upper level and vignettes of our West Valley City and surrounding areas on the lower level.

We recently added the Great Salt Lake scene with its historical Saltair and Antelope Island.  Sail boats launching from the marina are included on the lake.

Trains, both real and make believe, hold so many wonderful childhood memories.

I would love to hear about your favorite recollections of watching or playing with trains.

Sep 122013

A logging railroad was built in 1885 to move the massive redwood logs to the Mendocino County, California, coast sawmills.  Skunk Train

Skunk Train Leaving North SpurThe 40 mile trip from Fort Bragg to Willits crosses the Pudding River and creeks with over 30 bridges and trestles.

Some of the original timbers buckled in one of the two  tunnels and collapsed this spring.  Over 200 tons of debris had to be cleared from the blocked portion of the 1,112 foot long tunnel.Skunk Train Entertainer

Because the redwoods absorb massive amounts of water into the six foot base of their trunks, the loggers left this very heavy part of the tree standing.  A notch was chopped into the trunk and a plank inserted above this six foot level.  Then the loggers chopped down the trees, while perched on this plank.  The six foot stumps are still solidly standing, with some regrowth showing after almost a hundred years.

The train ride would be boring, if it wasn’t for the train songs.  Even the dog had a smile on his face.

SkunkTrain Entertainer At Lunch Stop Northspur is the half way point and lunch was served under the redwoods, while the engine was switched to the front for the return trip.

The singer’s handmade flute entertained us with hauntingly beautiful music, that echoed through the trees.Skunk Train Cottage In Redwoods

Railroad workers were able to buy land for one dollar an acre.  Many families still live in, or vacation in, their grandparents cottages.

The only access to these homes is still by train.  The engineer will drop off groceries and mail to these hardy folks, as they did in the 1800’s.

California Western Rail Car

“You can smell ’em before you can see ’em” was the comment that gave the Skunk Train it’s nickname.  The combined fumes from the gas engines and the coal stoves that kept passengers warm, stunk like a skunk.

The yellow engine is an example of the gasoline powered locomotive that caused the “aroma.”

More about the skunk train can be found at this website:

I’ve always loved the majesty of trees.  My favorite is the Blue Spruce, what’s your favorite?

Enjoy other links to photos and stories at Travel Photo Discovery , the Travel Photo Monday series.

Aug 292013

The Point Cabrillo Lighthouse was built in 1909.  It’s bright beam of light was visible for more than 20 miles, to guide ships away from the jagged rocks and reefs of the Mendocino Coast.Point Cabrillo Lighthouse Scene

Lighthouse Museum California
We had to walk the one half mile to the lighthouse, since driving is restricted to service vehicles or people vacationing there.  According to the Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society website, a French physicist, Augustin Fresnel invented the lens.
Lighthouse Museum lightLighthouse Museum FireplaceThe Fresnel lens’ glass prisms are clustered to appear like one enormous beehive.  The hand ground and polished glass prisms were fitted into the frames, so they bend the light into a horizontal beam.  Since this type of lens produces more light with less weight, the Fresnel lens has many uses even today.

The lighthouse keeper’s full-time job was to keep the lens’ oil lamps burning brightly, make sure the lens turned smoothly and clean the smoke off the prisms.  Today, this function is done electronically with minimum maintenance work involved.Lighthouse Museum toys

Originally, the fog horn had two steam-driven diaphones that produced a two-tone “bah-rump.”  The keeper and his assistants had the tedious job of tending the boilers that produced the steam.  The fog horn is no longer needed, but I wonder how the light keeper’s family slept through the noisy bah-rumps.

The children had tinker toys and a rocking whale to play with.  I love the whale’s colorful, pink lips!

The job of lighthouse keeper offered low pay, but free room and board for the families living there.  If you’ve always wanted to experience a quiet and isolated vacation, you can rent the Head Lighthouse Keepers home at this website:
This historical museum is a short distance from Fort Bragg, California.  If the youngsters in your family aren’t ready for a quiet vacation, I highly recommend visiting the lighthouse just to see this lens operate.  It is so unique and amazing to watch, as it silently sends it’s beacon out to sea.  Please share where you enjoyed your most unusual vacation.

Jun 112013

As previously mentioned, my husband and I became volunteer managers of an HO Scale train room, at our area’s Senior Recreation Center last year.

This room had been a four year work in progress by another train lover, so we are dealing with what was already built.  What we jokingly called our seven foot chocolate cake/blob, is the cover for a (circular track) helix that’s designed to bring the trains to the upper or lower level of tracks.

Model Train helix

To reflect how we would have wanted our town to look in the 1950’s, we added a Ski Lodge and Skiers on the mountain.
Model Train Ski area

Model Train Ski LodgeWhen people cleaned out their dusty, spider infested boxes, they donated the HO scale model items to the train room,

Luckily for me, all the spiders were dead and one of the great finds was this saloon.

We kit-bashed it into a ski chalet and painted winter Model Train Ski Hill 1clothes on the patrons.

Kit-bashing sounds destructive, but it is really a gentle method of creating what you need to fit a theme.

A fence was cut, shaped and painted to become ski racks.

Coal dust was used for the blacktopped road and the rock retaining wall was molded from plaster.

Model Train Ski Hill 2More trees were added and hot glued into place to finally stand up straight.

Our research on adding snow to the mountain was entertaining.  One suggestion was to add crystal sugar for the sparkle.  How cute would it be, to have ants snacking on our sugar mountain?

We haven’t been historically true to how our town looked in the 1950’s.  We’ve captured some interesting sites of Utah and compressed them into scenes of what we hope everyone will enjoy seeing in our train room .

May 152013

As previously mentioned, my husband and I became volunteer managers of an HO Scale train room, at our area’s Senior Recreation Center last year.  Besides fixing the railroad track so the trains can run smoothly, we are remodeling the room to reflect how our town may have looked in the 1950’s.
Train Room waterfall full length

Originally, the waterfall was just a blue strip, with wads of cotton stuck on to simulate water.  I found some tutorials explaining how to create waterfalls by using clear caulking.
Train Room caulking gun copyLuckily our bathtubs aren’t in need of a re-caulking just yet, cause making waterfalls seemed like a lot more fun.

caulking linesI spread the caulking on clear plastic wrap with enough lines to match the width of the waterfall area and about 15 inches long.  I made five of these caulked sections, to cover the length of the waterfall.caulking merged

Then a tooth pick was used to blend together the caulking lines.  By twisting and lifting the toothpick, the roughness of water splashing was created.

The next day, the caulking strips were dry enough to attach to the train room wall, by using more caulking as glue.

By accident, I found that the pressure from the caulking gun made long drips which were perfect to simulate the waterfall’s streaming water.

After the strips were attached, more long drips were added since this looked so cool.  Sparkle Paint was dabbed sporadically and wisps of cotton added for a clear, rushing water effect.Train Room waterfall bottom portion

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